Bulls, Butler still long way from full strength
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Bulls guard Jimmy Butler drives against Mavericks forward Shawn Marion on Saturday. Butler aggravated a turf toe injury in the loss but says he'll be ready to play Monday in Memphis.
Losing badly to Dallas showed how many obstacles stand in the way of a Bulls turnaround.
Luol Deng appears close to returning from a sore left Achilles, but Jimmy Butler limped badly in the locker room following the 105-83 loss Saturday. Getting everyone healthy and playing together isn't going to happen anytime soon.
Butler aggravated the turf toe injury on his right foot. The joint below the big toe was badly swollen after the game, but Butler vowed to play Monday at Memphis.
"I pushed off of it wrong," he said. "It didn't feel too well at all, but I kept going, so obviously it didn't bother me too much.
"I've still got to produce. Still got to guard, still got to make shots, still got to not turn the ball over seven times. There's no excuse for all that -- toe 100 percent or toe 10 percent."
Butler played nearly 46 minutes in Saturday's loss. He hit 2 of 10 shots from the field, finishing with 11 points, 5 assists and 7 turnovers.
After missing 12 games to injuries, Butler has been putting in extra hours at the Berto Center to get back in game shape, in addition to taking care of the bad toe and sprained right ankle.
"When I leave the Berto, it's eight o'clock at night," he said. "But that's what I want. This is my job. I want to be great like everyone else wants to be. That means I have to work harder than everybody because I'm not the most talented guy. I'm not the most athletic guy. But I can be the most hardworking guy."
The Bulls are 1-8 against Western Conference teams, so Monday's trip to Memphis won't be easy. Then they play at home Tuesday against Toronto, which has won seven of its last 10 games.
Coach Tom Thibodeau canceled practice Sunday, but put a priority on getting all of his players back in the gym.
"To me, practice is huge," Thibodeau said. "Practicing hard and practicing together is very, very important in this league. I've been around a long time and I haven't seen teams have success that don't practice well."
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